TQHYA Blog on the AQHYA Young Horse Development Program
by CLAIRE LEE, 2019 TQHYA President
“Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone…..” wait what? Sorry George Strait but I wasn’t headed for Amarillo for this roadtrip! Howdy! My name is Claire Danielle Lee and I was one of the recipients of a weanling colt from the AQHYA Young Horse Development Program. When I first received the letter, I was very excited to be chosen for this amazing opportunity to learn more about colt starting methods, expand my horsemanship skills, and most importantly, get a new horse to teach! My weanling was donated by JO Bar Quarter Horses with Mrs. Amanda Mayfield and her daughter, Erica Valdez in Animas, New Mexico. This trip would be an exciting maiden voyage into New Mexico because my family and I had never traveled out there! Mrs. Mayfield and I agreed that we would make our way to meet her during the Christmas break so after my sister and I got out of school on our last day, 2 adults, 3 kids, and 3 dogs piled in the truck to make our way to the Mayfield Ranch. After spending several hours in the truck and watching deer wanting to cross the road often, we finally stopped in Sanderson, TX for the night. And if you know Sanderson, there is only 2 hotels in the area! Unlike in George Strait’s song, we made El Paso by morning not Amarillo and continued towards Las Cruces, New Mexico. Throughout this trip, I would give Mrs. Mayfield updates on how close we were, an easy countdown of when I would get to meet her and my weanling! Once we reached Las Cruces, it was only 2 hours from our final destination….the Mayfield Ranch. When we reached the front gate of the ranch, the ranch was so big that we still had to drive 5 miles before we reached their home! After parking and stretching out my legs after a 9 hour drive this morning, my family and I were given a warm welcome by Mrs. Amanda Mayfield. She greeted us and led us inside her office to get to know each other better and told us her story about how she came to be with horses. Mrs. Mayfield had grown up around horses her whole life and when she went to college, missed them greatly. She pursued and earned a degree in Architecture and was the lead singer in a rhythm and blues band but she knew that something was missing. She left the band when she began exercise riding Quarter Horses for a racing trainer; she later became a jockey and raced in California, Florida, New York and even Canada! Mrs. Mayfield said that no matter what, she always knew that she would come back to horses. After laughing and sharing stories about our horse endeavors, Mrs. Mayfield took my family and I outside to meet my weanling filly. She was a light sorrel filly with lots of chrome on her face, 2 white socks on her feet and what Mrs. Mayfield joked was a “Butterball Belly”. My dad backed up the trailer to the pen so that we could load her quickly without engaging any issues, yet my weanling sniffed the trailer and hopped on no problem. Mrs. Mayfield said that in order to completely start from scratch for the program, she didn’t put a halter on the filly. She encouraged me to begin setting small goals with the weanling like halter breaking her and of course, giving her a name! Before we left the Mayfield Ranch, Mrs. Mayfield told me to please give her updates on my progress with the filly and that she hopes to see me in the show ring with her. Mrs. Mayfield also sent us back on the road with some freshly baked cookies, probably because my siblings and I were looking at them earlier! We drove back into Texas, and finally stopped in Van Horn at the B.A.S.I.C Lodging for the night; we made sure that the filly had feed, hay, and water before we threw ourselves onto the hotel bed to sleep! My family and I woke up in the morning to continue our journey home and after 30 hours of traveling about 2,000 miles and passing through 18 Texas counties we made it home safe and sound. As we traveled through the remote areas of Texas and New Mexico, there was always a sense of security that we weren’t alone thanks to our U.S Border Patrol. The next morning, I had figured out a name for my weanling, “Annie” for “Animas” New Mexico, where we had to go pick her up. My dad, siblings and I agreed that if Annie was in the trailer, it would be easier to halter her without so much space for her to move. After a brief while, Annie had a new shiny red halter on her and we were able to lead her off the trailer and into a pen. Throughout this Christmas Break, I was able to brush her, lead her around, and pick up her front two feet. She is naturally very smart and curious to try anything I ask of her; Annie still enjoys this colder weather because of her winter coat but I do not! I am very excited and eager to see what Annie and I can do within this program and in the show ring after with the guidance of the horsemen in my family and the AQHA Horsemen and women in Texas and of course, the Mayfields!